Most of us don’t live in Southern California where they have climate instead of weather. Because of that our winter heating costs can be astronomical. Who doesn’t want to save energy and money? You get the cachet of energy efficiency in these green-conscious times and you save a little extra money to use however you want. One thing people seldom consider when it comes to alternative home heating is the use of passive solar heating.
A fair bit of solar energy hits the surface of the earth, even in the depth of winter. The surface temperature would actually rise much higher were the days of the same length as in the summer. Imagine the possibilities of collecting power every minute the sun is available. Even better, what if no major alterations to your house would be required?
For passive solar heating in a home, two elements must be present: a transparent southern exposure that allows the sun’s energy to enter the home, and a material that will absorb heat to be released slowly into the home.
Here is where the Trombe wall comes in. This wall is made of a thermal mass (such as concrete or stone) that can store the heat built up during the day, and then release it slowly throughout both the night and day. On the outside the wall is insulated by a glass pane and an airspace, thus preventing the loss of heat to the outside during the night. A shade rests above the glass that allows direct light exposure during low winter sun, but acts as a protection during prolonged high summer sun heat, this dual action helps keep cooling bills in the summer low also.
It is also possible to use a waterfall instead of masonry which will deliver heat more quickly. This is because heat is transferred much more quickly because of the convection currents in the water.
Many of us are interested in pursuing more energy efficient heating alternatives such as passive solar heating. Whatever alternative you choose the cost of installation may be expensive. Whether you are seeking a custom designed home or renovating an existing structure you have options. One advantage of passive solar heating is that once installed continued use expenses are nominal.
Even though it became popular in homes built in the 1960’s, the idea behind the Trombe wall actually originated in the 19th century. In shopping for that new, energy efficient home, you should keep in mind that you can still go green by using past, proven design techniques.
Now that the awareness of green issues is commonplace, people are becoming aware of the costs involved in heating our homes, both financial and environmental. Ideas from our ancestors, both ancient and not so ancient, solutions such as passive solar heating, are being looked at as viable because not only do they have a benefit environmentally, but they save us money as well.